For 2013, the Honda Insight carries forward unchanged, and for a more comprehensive overview, most of what you need to know can be found in our 2012 Insight review, but we’ll add some commentary here to round that out.
As a brand, Honda automobiles have a multi-decade legacy of comparatively high quality, safety, and fuel efficiency with low emissions to help it along in selling the Insight.
The Insight, which closely resembles the Toyota Prius and was intended as “a Prius fighter,” is portrayed by Honda as “the most affordable hybrid for sale in the U.S.”
This may be true, but sales numbers for the combined base Insight, LX and EX trim levels show the market is not swayed overly much in voting its checkbook in favor of the Insight over Prius models.
In calendar year 2012, Honda sold 5,846 Insights. In contrast, Toyota sold 147,504 Prius Liftbacks, and the Prius c – launched in March thus lacking a full selling year – saw delivery of 35,733 units.
The $18,600 entry point for the Insight now substantially undercuts the regular Prius Liftback’s $24,200 entry level, but it is not so much greater than the smaller Prius c which starts at $19,080.
The Insight’s 98 horsepower is within close range of the c’s 99 horsepower also, but all this said, the Honda does offer a unique value proposition, and deserves to at least be looked into further.
For one thing, the Honda Insight received a 2012 Total Cost of Ownership Award from Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com. This contrasts with the Prius c which was the target of extremely sharp and repeated criticism by Consumer Reports. The littlest Prius looks great on paper – and is a solid car for what it is and many disagree with Consumer Reports – but CR said the car was so chintzy and lacking in ride quality, power and more that it would have been better to buy a used regular Prius than to settle for the c.
Obviously sales numbers prove many buyers are not heeding this advice, and the Prius c now ranks in the Top Five overall among hybrids, but we thought we’d mention it.
In a Nutshell
Contrasting with the 1.5-liter full hybrid system in the Prius lineup, the Honda is powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system rounding out the power supply.
It uses a CVT transmission as do most hybrids. The top-line EX model does offer a simulated seven-speed paddle shifted transmission. This system selects ratios within the CVT to attempt to duplicate the feel of shifting gears.
Honda also spruced up interior and exterior details in 2012 sooner than anticipated due to its perceived lack of competitiveness following its 2010-2011 selling years.
It comes in three trim levels and all are relatively well equipped for the money when compared to other hybrid competitors.
On the road, the car can feel a bit sluggish – as can the Prius c city car – but with careful driving, it can meet or exceed its EPA advertised numbers – as can the Prius c.
The Honda rides on a McPherson strust suspension up front with torsion beam axle in back.
Safety is baked in with dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags. It also has front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), and a side-curtain airbag system.
The anti-lock brakes have electronic brake distribution (EBD), and the front body structure is designed to help mitigate pedestrian injuries.
The Insight also features Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, which provides improved occupant protection and crash compatibility between vehicles of different sizes and ride heights in frontal crashes.
It was named by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Insight a “2012 Top Safety Pick.”
This IIHS rating followed tests for performance in front and side crash tests, a rollover test, and evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.
Beyond this, we’ll again refer you to the general review of the 2012 model which is identical to the 2013.
It would appear pretty clearly that Honda – known in the past as more innovative in marketing frugal gas misers at a good value – attempted with the Insight to copy the competition but has not beaten it at its own game.
At $18,600 and up (plus $790 destination charge) the Insight could be a good value however, does promise respectable mileage, low total cost of ownership, and as Honda mentions in its own press materials, it costs less. And, it’s still a Honda.